Thursday, February 16, 2012

Will Cardiff, Wales Fall for Another Gadgetbahn Flim Flam?

Years ago, Personal Rapid Transit was supposed to debut in Cardiff, Wales.. but, they backed off when reality set in.

Seems they haven't learned their lesson:

An advanced railway could soon be whisking passengers from the centre of Cardiff to the Bay – over the heads of people walking below.

Plans for an elevated railway were discussed yesterday by representatives of Cardiff City Council and Monometro, a Blackwood-based company that has developed the state of the art system with the help of Saudi investors.

A little Googling came up with this:

Digging into MonoMetro finds a couple of things – it’s run by a bloke called Gareth Pearce, from Blackwood, Caerphilly, Wales. It’s, so far as I can tell, not been built anywhere yet, although there are stories of Saudi interest leading to a scheme in Mecca opening in 2012. There’s a lot of accusations that TfL and the Government have deliberatly ignored the scheme, including a comment...

The comment quoted in the blog:

The enire London MonoMetro project, painstakingly planned and meticulously designed through cooperation across a raft of private UK and US companies, it took ten years of effort. And while MonoMetro stands as a magnificant transport achievement it has been resisted since 2001 by the politburo style Transport for London, backed by the Stalinist Mayor Ken Livingstone.

The blog goes one with a look at the Wikipedia article on MonoMetro (go to the blog to follow the links):

Mr. Pearce, who I’m sure is a lovely fellow really, is mentioned in less than glowing terms here and here.

I then had a quick look at Wikipedia’s entry on the MonoMetro scheme, and the page reads like a mixture of advertising and complaints about the treatment of the scheme by the Government and ‘orrible old Ken, neither of which is exactly in keeping with Wikipedia’s neutral tone rules. In fact, comparing revisions here and here shows exactly what happened; a user from IP greatly enlarged the previously perfectly acceptable article on the 15th December 2007, in two editing sessions. The revised article subsequently got marked for style cleanup in June 2008, but nothing’s happened since apart from some minor edits, including one by London transport-and-other-stuff blogger D-Notice (at least, I presume it’s him), who, I note deliciously, has also been doing man’s work on Andrew Gilligan’s page.

Looking at IP, I see that he made one further edit immediately after his 15/12/2007 marathon, which was on the page for … Blackwood, Caerphilly, birthplace of Gareth Pearce. The edit added an unexplained link to, which, so far as I can see, doesn’t have a great deal of relevance to Blackwood, Caerphilly other than that the founder was born there. This was duly deleted as linkspam on 11/2/2008.

So, we have an apparent irascible Ken-hating architect with a new transport system to sell, who was told to stuff it by TfL and hasn’t been taking it lying down. He gets two favourable articles on LondonUnlocked, then *someone* rewrites the Wikipedia page on MonoMetro to render it a biased mess, adding a link to the system’s website to Pearce’s home town’s page to round it off.

The blog has some great observations about gadgetbahn, read the whole thing.

For more hilarious UK gadgetbahn flim-flammery read my post about Maglev Movers.

For laffs, read this bizarre screed from Gareth Pearce circa 2005 - here's a quote:

The Mayor of London and some GLA members have made statements that TfL carried out assessment of MonoMetro. Other GLA members have questioned the Mayor requesting a copy of TfL's alleged assessment. TfL in response further dismiss MonoMetro sLRT making no disclosure of any assessment material. In the national press TfL continue to make statements that MonoMetro sLRT is "an anorak's dream" with further statements of misinformation to the GLA that MonoMetro sLRT is unworkable, cannot be introduced into the urban environment and that MonoMetro Limited have no technical expertise. These statements have had a deeply damaging influence on the perception of MonoMetro from other regional authorities in the United Kingdom. Glasgow City Council terminated their assessment of MonoMetro for a city wide network because of adverse opinion publicised by TfL. A study requested by Thames Gateway was abandoned because of the biased opinion of TfL and while Portsmouth City Council commissioned MonoMetro to undertake a study for an urban network which was carried out and delivered they withdrew because of the adverse statements by TfL taken as authority. By contrast MonoMetro sLRT is the preferred technology for a 38 mile project in the United States and is being assessed by the French Government for urban implementation.

For more laffs, watch this video about the Monometro:

UPDATE: Jerry Schneider posted a hilarious letter from Gareth on the PRT-pod-loving Transport Innovators forum:

Jerry ,

We have made good progress with Cardiff City Council agreeing the most difficult part of the route. There are elections in May so the outline planning has to be held back till then but planning has agreed to work through all the necessay difficulties with us so that outline planning will be a foregone conclusion. The environmental assessment can also be submitted at outline planning stage. It's a two stage process outline first and full planning some time later maybe a year, in time to start construction on site.

We have two potential investors wanting to buy the entire £122mm Private Debenture shares with a 5% stock option. Its a bit of a frenzied fight.

I think its very important we complete the development of MonoMetro, the world needs it now. Its a simple railway and no technology to worry about. New system old technology. Metal to metal wheel rail interface proven in bearings applications, rolled rail section where the rolling "patch" contact geometry renders such an effectively low rolling point load that threshold of excitation leading to Hysterisis is never breached thus eliminating wear significantly over conventional rail.

We also have the high speed test track route in early stage of planning negotiations. We presented the route and we are waiting to hear from the County Council planning department. Mech Engineering informs me their design criteria for the bogies will be 140km/h. So with both high speed and urban test track routes in place we can tender for a wide spectrum of projects. Easy as she goes.

Best regards,

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